Gregory takes two out of three over Palaci to win CueTec DFW 9-Ball Tournament

Clint Palaci, Donnie Gregory & Juan Parra

With his victory this past weekend (Oct. 17-18) on the CueTec Dallas-Fort Worth 9-Ball Tour, Donnie Gregory turned an otherwise (for most people) disastrous 2020 into his best recorded earnings year to date. It took him five events to record what was his previous best earnings a year ago in 2019. It’s taken him only three 2020 events to surpass his 2019 earnings. This, of course, does not include money he may have earned by collecting additional monies outside the realm of official tour payouts or in tournaments not recorded with us for posterity.

Gregory had to earn this latest win, too. He made it to the hot seat, but the competitor he sent to the semifinals – Clint Palaci – came back to haunt him in the opening set of a true double elimination final. Gregory hung on to win the second set and claim the event title. The $1,500-added event drew 73 entrants to The Billiards Den in Richardson, TX.

Gregory was battling for advancement right from the start of this one. Awarded an opening round bye, he won his first four matches (all but one were straight up races to 7) by an average score of 7-5, including two double hill wins over Steve Raynes and Brian Cady. In between, in his second round, he defeated Walter Huenerfuerst (racing to 8). He then defeated Curtis Cardwell 7-4 in a winners’ side quarterfinal to face Jerry Yang in one of the winners’ side semifinals. 

Palaci, in the meantime, had a slightly less harrowing run to the winners’ side final four, averaging 7-4 wins against his four opponents; Keith Atkins (4), Doug Winnett (double hill), Brendan Fuller (1), and Aaron Ramijio (6), to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal against Moe Harbaji.

Gregory got into the hot seat match with his ‘easiest’ victory to that point, a 7-2 win over Yang. Palaci joined him after sending Harbaji to the loss side 7-4. Gregory enjoyed his ‘easy’ 7-2 win over Yang so much that he repeated it to claim the hot seat over Palaci.

On the loss side, Yang and Harbaji walked right into their second straight loss. Yang had picked up Tony Top, who’d been defeated in the event’s opening round and was on an eight-match, loss-side winning streak, which had recently included victories over Robin Barbour 8-6 and Aaron Ramijio 8-4. Harbaji drew Juan Parra, who was working on a much more modest two-match, loss-side streak that started when he’d been defeated by Yang in one of the winners’ side quarterfinals. He’d opened on the loss side with victories over Jamie Cummings and Curtis Caldwell, both 7-5.

Top and Parra advanced to the quarterfinals; Top, stretching his loss-side streak to nine matches with an 8-6 win over Yang and Parra, downing Harbaji 7-4. Parra then stopped Top’s streak with a 7-4 win in those quarterfinals.

Clint Palaci, in turn, ended Parra’s short, loss-side journey 7-5 in the semifinals. 

Momentum may have been the reason that someone came up with the idea of a true double elimination final. As the hot seat occupant is relaxing somewhere, or even just practicing, he/she is not engaged in actual competition and it can arguably take an edge off the ‘knife’ that is his/her competitiveness. Thus, a single win by the designated semifinalist seemed . . . unfair somehow, so someone came up with the idea of an extra match with both competitors having chalked up one loss.

Palaci took the opening set of this true double elimination final 7-4. In their straight-up race to 7, they battled to within a game of double hill in the second set, before Gregory pulled out to win it 7-5, claim the event title and go $600 over his previous best recorded-earnings year.

In addition to the 16 straight payout winners, cash was disseminated to the ‘last standing’ competitor in three different skill levels (SL). Tour director Monica Anderson and Joey Salazar tied for the privilege among SL4s. Dennis Hall took home the SL5 cash and Moe Harbaji grabbed the SL6 money. Anderson picked up extra cash as the ‘last standing’ female. 

Anderson thanked Marcy Rothberg and her Billiards Den staff for hosting the event, as well as title sponsor CueTec Cues and Associate Title Sponsor Fort Worth Billiards Superstore. The next stop on the DFW 9-Ball Tour will be the tour finale, scheduled for November 14-15 at Rusty’s Billiards in Arlington, TX.